Market Research Viewpoints

Ruth Mortimer, Associate editor, Marketing Week

The most-used adage in corporate history is perhaps “the customer is always right”. But maybe the more interesting question for marketers is: “Just how do we know what our customers need us to get right?”

This is where market research comes in. It can act as a funnel for delivering consumer needs, interests and demands to brands to help companies offer people the correct products and services. As Roger Sant, vicepresident of Maritz Research Europe, says on page 12, now is the time to map out the “insight department” of the future.

In the brands of the future, warns Sant, research will have to be made available to consumers so they can see how the company is reacting to their needs. He says: “People are already sharing their views and opinions online… if we don’t share information in a controlled way, it will get out in an uncontrolled way instead.”

Getting things right is especially important in a recession, where survival depends on understanding people and responding to them quickly. Data from e-Rewards (page 8) indicates that 79% of UK businesses are adversely affected by the current economic climate, with just 20% seeing any recovery in 2009.

If a business is lucky enough still to be operating at the end of this difficult year, it’s vital for that brand to understand what might make consumers keep spending or even shell out more on their goods or services.

Julian Bond at Incite (page 10) looks at what lies behind consumer loyalty to companies. He defines several core groups of consumers, from those who are truly loyal to a brand to those who have “spurious loyalty” or “latent loyalty”.

Understanding the nature of loyalty is vital, says Paul Hague at B2B International (page 4), because those firms lucky enough to be referred by a satisfied customer to a friend or colleague see a 92% retention rate compared to 68% for a customer acquired by advertising.

Ultimately, David Thomson of Brandphonic (page 6) reports, it is all down to making sure brands develop “spikes of positivity” in consumers’ lives. Companies must then measure these emotional reactions to see how they can be replicated across the business and over time Thomson sums up: “We can manage things better if we can measure them.” And as we move into 2010, this new adage seems just as relevant as the old ones.

Click here to download the Market Research Viewpoints pdf

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